Frontiers and Contemporary Thinking: Zygmunt Bauman and Salman Rushdie

Frontiers and Contemporary Thinking: Zygmunt Bauman and Salman Rushdie | Dana BADULESCU

Abstract: This paper looks into the nature of contemporary modernity as reflected by the metaphorical discourses of Zygmunt Bauman, an outstanding sociological writer, and Salman Rushdie, a famous novelist. This approach to the two writers’ echoing discourses focuses upon their new perceptions of frontiers, which are crucial in their inquiries. When Rushdie weaves a whole lecture, later published in book form under the title Step Across this Line, around the idea of frontier, he echoes Bauman’s vocabulary and perceptions when he explores his own ideas of modern “liquidity.” Rushdie, whose book-length essay came out in 2002, never references Bauman’s Liquid Modernity, published in 2000. Arguably, Rushdie may have never read Bauman’s book. However, the similarity of their perceptions upon the “liquid” nature of modernity, especially when applied to frontiers not only spatially but also temporally, is striking. Bauman’s statements that “in the fluid stage of modernity, the settled majority is ruled by the nomadic and exterritorial elite,” that “holding the ground is not that important if the ground can be reached and abandoned at whim, in a short time or in no time,” that “being modern means being perpetually ahead of oneself, in a state of constant transgression” find a mirror in Rushdie’s contentions that “in our deepest natures, we are frontier-crossing beings,” that “we are living in a frontier time, one of the great hinge periods in human history, in which great changes are coming about at great speed.”

Keywords: Frontier, Frontier-crossing, Quest, Liquid modernity, Transgression.

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Frontiers and Contemporary Thinking: Zygmunt Bauman and Salman Rushdie